Home > Strategies and Skill Development > Outline of Provisional Learning Progressions

This page links to the provisional learning progressions that have been developed as part of the CBALTM English language arts framework. In CBAL, a learning progression is defined as a description of qualitative change in a student’s level of sophistication for a key concept, process, strategy, practice, or habit of mind. Change in student standing on such a progression may be due to a variety of factors, including maturation and instruction. Each progression is presumed to be modal--i.e., to hold for most, but not all, students. Finally, it is provisional, subject to empirical verification and theoretical challenge.

The CBAL learning progressions are organized into skills foci. Each skills focus has three interrelated progressions associated with it, one for each mode of thought: interpretation, deliberation, and expression.

The provisional learning progressions are intended to provide guidance in the construction of assessment tasks and in the scaffolding of skills and strategies for instruction. However, these sequences are not intended to offer a strict scope-and-sequence for instruction. The skills and strategies identified in these progressions are normally highly interconnected and best learned together in coordinated tasks and contexts. The progressions we have proposed are intended primarily as an analytic tool. Given a particular skills focus, which typically involves a characteristic task (such as telling a story), the learning progressions provide ways to scaffold the task (for instructional purposes) and to identify sources of evidence that can help to pin down what students need to learn. However, any realistic literacy task typically requires many skills to be integrated and applied, and so we recommend that these progressions be used to inform instruction, not to define a curriculum.

Note that skills foci are clustered by levels of cognitive representation: social, conceptual, discourse, verbal, and print. Skills foci within the same level tend to draw upon many of the same underlying skills, since they involve manipulating the same kinds of cognitive representations. Often skills at one level presuppose or draw upon more foundational skills at a lower level. These kinds of dependencies are noted where possible, but not exhaustively. For examples of integrated assessment tasks that draw upon the multiple skills required for carrying out realistic literacy tasks, readers should examine sample CBAL assessments.

Since the progressions are provisional, reflecting our best extrapolation from the research literature, we encourage those who use these progressions to provide feedback to us.

Provisional Learning Progressions (Organized by Skills Foci within Level of Cognitive Representation)


Social -- reasoning about people and social situations
Social Modeling * Conversing * Storytelling * Reading Between the Lines * Stance Taking * Reconciliation of Perspectives * Rhetorical Analysis * Standard Setting * Appeal Building

Conceptual – reasoning about abstract mental categories and models
Self-Explanation * Exposition * Clarification * Inquiry * Appropriation * Research Synthesis * Hypothesis Testing * Argument Building (Taking a Position; Reasons and Evidence)

Discourse – reasoning about the structure of documents and other modes of discourse
Outlining * Summarization * Structured Expression (Framing a Narrative, Framing an Exposition, Framing a Case) * Prediction * Planning * Comparison * Incorporation * (P)review * Revision

Verbal – reasoning about how meaning is expressed in linguistic form
Verbal Inference * Verbal Expression * Code Switching * Vocabulary Development * Glossing and Paraphrase * Grammatical Analysis * Sentence Combining * Editorial Markup * Line Editing

Print – reasoning about how linguistic form is expressed in letters, sounds, or other signals
Sound-Out * Memorization * Analogy * Look-Up * Print Cues * Prescription * Self-Correction * Proofreading










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